Former presidential candidate and environmental activist Marianne Williamson said on Monday that the six-month prison sentence given to former environmental lawyer Steven Donziger last week is designed to have a “chilling effect” on environmentalists.
Donziger, who successfully secured a $8.5 billion judgement against Texaco in 2011, was sentenced to six months in prison on Friday for contempt charges related to legal proceedings that began in Ecuador a decade ago. Donziger has already served more than two years in house arrest and supporters have decried the sentencing as retaliatory, which Williamson agreed with.
“[U.S. District Judge Loretta Preska] is expressing the outrage of Chevron, and by extension all oil companies, at the audacity of Steven Donziger and by extension the entire environmentalist movement to challenge its hegemony,” Williamson said.
“It’s meant to have a chilling effect on any of us in the environmental movement or just citizens of the planet who say this has got to stop,” Williamson added. She accused Preska of speaking on behalf of Chevron, rather than on behalf of the U.S. justice system.
Donziger’s sentencing came just days after the United Nations’ Working Group on Arbitrary Detention condemned his years-long house arrest for violating international laws.
Explaining her July conviction of Donziger, Preska wrote “a lawyer, of all people, should know that in the face of a perceived injustice, one may not take the law into his own hands.”
Watch part of Williamson’s interview above